Hundreds of Deaths in Brazil, a Product of NegligenceJanuary 15, 2011
Since the beginning of the year, at least 550 people in Brazil have died and thousands more have lost their homes, due to this year’s floods, which have been disastrous as usual, but certainly not surprising. What is surprising is the government’s inability to prepare for a recurring problem all too familiar to local inhabitants. Of course, global warming and climate change are a big component of this tragedy, but the incompetence of local authorities is outrageous.
Every single year, during summer time, Brazil suffers from flooding, which is inherent to the tropical weather of the country. Similarly, every single year, authorities recite the same words and promises of aid to calm the desperate needs of locals. They claim that the disaster is caused as “… consequence of the huge amount of rain”.
Well, if authorities are aware of the consequences of the rain season, why don’t they take necessary steps to minimize the flooding consequences during the dry season? Why can’t they relocate families living in risky areas and slums? Why can’t they build the necessary dams and water channels?
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the vast majority of the victims of these floods are, in all truthfulness, marginalized and treated as second-class citizens. Not only do they live in precarious conditions, but they have no other recourse but to live without access to basic human rights, including housing, cleaning water and sewer. How many wealthy and influential people are among the fatal victims of the floods? Probable none. If there were, I am certain that the negligence and inefficiency of the authorities would be much smaller over the years.
While a great number of Brazilian families are treated as second-class citizens and they are remembered only during election periods, the casualties that the floods bring year in and year out, will be only be a big number that will grow over the years. But behind the numbers, there are fatalities; there are people struggling to survive in an unfair society, where the wealthy have the best of the worlds and the marginalized community has to be carefully not to become one more statistic in the speech of yet another negligent public officer.